CASS COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - The people of Cass County have been battling tragedy after tragedy over the past few months. Now, it's a matter of picking up the pieces and trying to move on for this community.
One way they are looking to do this, is through a simple t-shirt. The shirt shows the state with Cass County highlighted saying "#WeAreCassCounty."
"We have to do something to create a little bit more light inside of Cass County," said Fairview Elementary 5th grade teacher Megan Kiser.
September 9th, 2018: Two children died in a house fire on Montgomery Street in Logansport.
"It's kind of been like one thing after another, after another, after another," said Michelle Dials, Publisher for the Cass County Communications Network.
November 18th, 2018: Two Logansport teens were killed in a car accident in Kokomo.
"We've had a lot of tragedy,” said Mike McMahan, owner of Creative Promotions. “This county really steps up when there is tragedy.”
"I think everybody is looking to find out how can I help? And what can I do? So this offered a really easy way for people to make that first step,” said Dials.
She came up with the idea as a way to show unity after two teens were killed in a car accident in Kokomo on Nov. 18, hoping it would spread a message of unity.
“After the accident in Kokomo, Pioneer Elementary PTO posted on Facebook that they were going to support Logansport and Lewis Cass by wearing red on Monday,” she said.
Creative Promotions is a local Logansport printing business. Employees have taken on the challenge of creating these shirts during one of their busiest times of the year. McMahan said everyone will see that it's not just one town that's been hurt.
"Everybody sees that we are one,” he said. “You're united as a county. You're not separated, there's Logansport, Pioneer, Royal Center, Lewis Cass, Walton."
McMahan said he has personally seen the generosity this county is capable of.
“We had a house fire probably 15 years ago. I think the county stepped up and gave us about $10,000,” he said, struggling to think back on the memory. “So when it comes to giving back we’re usually pretty good about it.”
He said getting these shirts done is a top priority for the shop. And that they made sure to make the shirt in different colors so that all Cass County school fans can support the cause.
“There are some people in this county who will not wear red,” he said with a laugh.
But it was Megan Kiser who decided to take the shirt to the next level.
"I grew up here in Cass County and no matter what elementary school, no matter what middle school, high school we attended, we're all still a part of Cass County and it's our home and it's something we need to take care of,” said Kiser.
She wanted to take care of the people by using the shirts as a fundraiser for the families. Now a portion of the profits from the t-shirt sales will go back towards the families of the teen who died in the car accident and the family of the most recent house fire.
“I had a parent tell me that she felt the devil was working so much in our county and he just wasn’t leaving and that struck a huge cord with me,” she said of what motivated her to come up with the idea.
As an educator, she feels it's her responsibility to be an example for her students, some who are the same age as those that we have recently lost.
"I’m still mourning and I'm still dealing with the loss,” she said. “They get to see me go through that and it's just a way for them to see that we're here together and we'll get through it together."
But she said she sees a lot of hope, light, and love in her students, a sign that bodes well for our next generation.
“We have student council members from 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade and this was a part of their plan as well to give back,” she said. “It gives them a sense of ownership and that they can make a difference.”
Kiser also coaches the Logansport Lady Berries basketball team. She said the team will be wearing the t-shirts during warm up before each of the Cass county tournament games. Their first game of the tournament is on December 19th. She hopes other Cass County schools competing in the tournament might do the same.
McMahan says their goal is to sell 800 shirts total by the December 9th deadline. It may just seem like a t-shirt, but it means so much more to this community.
“I hope people will buy them, not just people who live here,” said Dials. “People who used to live here or people who just want to show their support for the community because they have some kind of connection.”
"I hope it brings people back together, get the negativity and bring some positivity back,” said McMahan.
"I just want us to realize that we are one,” said Kiser. “It's our faith, It's our love for one another that's going to bring us through the tough times."